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Wasps musts step up on Sunday to go back to top spot - Dai Young

Published 01/10/2016

Wasps rugby director Dai Young is wary of the threat Harlequins will pose in Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash
Wasps rugby director Dai Young is wary of the threat Harlequins will pose in Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash

Dai Young believes that his Wasps team will require a step up in performance on Sunday if they are to go back on top of the Aviva Premiership.

Victory over Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena would retain Wasps' 100 per cent Premiership record this season and take them above Saracens, who crushed Bristol 39-0 on Friday.

But Quins will arrive in Coventry on the back of beating Saracens last Saturday, and Wasps rugby director Young said: "Quins will come here full of confidence after a superb result last weekend.

"Quins showed everyone what they are capable of, and we're very aware of how much talent they have in their ranks and how dangerous they can be.

"There has been a good buzz around the training ground, but we are also realistic enough to know we rode our luck last weekend for the win against (Northampton) Saints, so we need to make sure we are much better this weekend and not rely on Lady Luck to get over the line.

"I was proud of the players' endeavour, attitude and desire, but we have to be better within our structures this week if we are to get the result we want."

Ashley Johnson makes his first start of the season at hooker for Wasps, packing down with skipper Matt Mullan and tighthead prop Jake Cooper-Woolley. One change in the back division following the 20-15 win at Northampton sees scrum-half Dan Robson starting instead of Joe Simpson.

England scrum-half Danny Care misses out for Quins because of a rib injury suffered against Saracens. Care is replaced by Karl Dickson, with three other changes from that game seeing starts for wing Marland Yarde, centre Alofa Alofa and prop Mark Lambert.

Worcester head coach Carl Hogg, meanwhile, has opted for a solitary switch following last weekend's 34-34 draw against Sale for Newcastle's Sixways visit on Sunday, with fly-half Tom Heathcote returning to starting duty.

Newcastle are unchanged from the side that claimed an impressive 18-13 win against Gloucester last Saturday. The only alteration in the Falcons' match-day 23 sees a place on the bench for England international prop David Wilson after he rejoined Newcastle from Bath last week.

A win for the Falcons could see them climb into the Premiership's top five, having already defeated Gloucester and Sale, in addition to losing by a point against Leicester.

"There are a number of differences from last year to this year," Falcons head coach John Wells said. "Part of that is rugby education, part of it is guys growing up individually and collectively.

"Largely, it's the same group of players, but they have perhaps learnt how to handle situations better.

"So when they were put in it as they were last week (against Gloucester), the information they've been getting over the last couple of years, the feedback and their own experiences, they are starting to understand what they need to do to handle situations like that better.

"We've been competitive in all our games, except Bath away. We haven't dominated the play to the extent we can have a cigar during the game, but we've been competitive all the way through.

"Worcester are probably not too dissimilar to ourselves in that respect. They've been ahead by two scores in both their home games and gone on to draw. They are scoring tries for fun, and no doubt they will be targeting this as one of those games that is must-win if they've got any aspirations to climb up the league."

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